Council tax freeze for Sunderland

Sunderland Civic Centre

Sunderland Civic Centre

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WEARSIDERS will not be hit in the pocket with a council tax rise this year.

Sunderland City Council’s ruling Labour cabinet today approved a council tax freeze as part of the authority’s budget for 2013/14.

The council’s spending plans must now be approved at a meeting of all councillors on Wednesday March 6.

Subject to that meeting, it would be the third year running that the council has frozen council tax – which would again mean Sunderland had the lowest rates in Tyne and Wear.

Sunderland City Council leader Councillor Paul Watson said: “This proposed freeze clearly recognises the economic climate and the challenges facing all residents.

“The council continues to do everything it can to mitigate the impact of these difficult economic circumstances.”

Council tax helps pay for hundreds of services from helping the elderly and vulnerable, refuse and recycling, and leisure facilities. Income from council services such as licensing and planning also helps cover costs.

But most of the council’s budget comes from Government funding, and the authority has had to cope with large cuts as Coalition Ministers reduce spending in a bid to reduce the deficit.

In the last three years, there have been reductions of £100million in council spending.

This year with cost pressures and Government grant reductions, the council must save £37million. A similar “savings requirement” will also be needed for the following two years.

The majority of households in Sunderland are in tax bands A and B. Of the 122,000 properties in the city, 77,000 are classed as Band A and householders would continue to pay £790.64, without the police and fire service precepts.

The tax raises approximately 12 per cent of the total budget.

The council’s total spending for 2013/2014 – including revenue and capital – is estimated at £695million.

•Read analysis and reaction in today’s Sunderland Echo.

Council tax bands for 2013/14

Band A 895.20

Band B 1,044.39

Band C 1,193.60

Band D 1,342.80

Band E 1,641.21

Band F 1,939.60

Band G 2,238.00

Band H 2,685.60